Foolows ancient cross in the snow of early 2010 © Mike Cummins 2010
Methodist church at Foolow © Mike Cummins 2010
Cottages at Foolow © Mike Cummins
Foolows frozen mere © Mike Cummins
The Bulls Head at Foolow © Mike Cummins
Parish church at Foolow © Mike Cummins 2010

Foolow guide's fool

Foolow, a small, nucleated village clustered around its village pond or ‘mere’ on the White Peak limestone plateau between Eyam and Tideswell, is often claimed to be one of the prettiest villages in The Peak District.

It is sometimes the source of amusement to visitors that just to the west of Foolow is the small dry valley known as Silly Dale. In fact, the name of Foolow has nothing to do with the intelligence of the inhabitants – it comes from the Old English and probably means ‘multi-coloured hill.’  Let's Stay Peak District editor, Roly Smith, reveals more...


The large village green is watched over by a crocketed medieval preaching cross and is surrounded by some fine 17th  and 18th century cottages, the most important of which are the bay-windowed, 17th century Manor House, and the Old Hall. At one time there were five hostelries in the village, but today only the popular Bull’s Head (formerly the Lazy Landlord) still exists.



Foolow is six miles (10km) north of Bakewell and two miles west of Eyam, off the A623 Chesterfield-Chapel-en-le-Frith road.



First mentioned as “Fowlowe” in 1269, during Foolow’s 18th century heyday, lead mining combined with farming as the major occupation of the villagers. Lead is thought to have been mined in the area since Roman times, and there is still much evidence of the industry in the spoil heaps and shafts in the surrounding meadows.



The Parish Church

The small parish church has the unusual dedication to St Hugh, and was built in 1888 as a Mission Church. St Hugh (1140-1200 AD), was renowned for his for his piety and concern for the poor, and was called the “English St Francis.” The reredos panels behind the altar by J A S Sands depict St Hugh as a young man and later when he was Bishop of Lincoln. The font is dated 1890 and was made by another local craftsman.

The Wesleyan Reform Chapel was built in 1836 and has a grand, Tuscan-style porch and thin, lancet-type side-windows.



Well dressing

The village well-dressings were revived in 1983 to raise funds for the village hall, and they take place from then last Saturday in August, to coincide with the village Wakes Week and neighbouring Eyam’s well dressings.Two boards are dressed, one by village children, at the single well on the village green. Unusually, the design is drawn straight onto the clay, without the usual traced outline.




A good six-mile walk goes from the village east across the fields to Eyam and then up onto Eyam Edge to the summit of Sir William Hill (1,408feet/429m) on Eyam Moor, and then by lanes to Bretton passing the Barrel Inn, finally descending the edge back into Foolow.


A secret and beautiful subterranean waterfall is hidden away from view on the Fool to Eyam road. Known as Waterfall Swallet near Eyam this rare gem is an impressive sight in full spate and well worth finding - if you can. Parking nearby can be tricky on this narrow country lane so please be considerate and take care when descending into the limestone depression into which it falls too - it's often extremely slippery and muddy in the bottom.



The Bull’s Head (01433 630873) now thankfully with its ancient name restored, offers good quality pub food and is very popular with visitors during the summer months and at weekends. Another traditional pub featuring a range of cask ales and freshly-cooked food based on locally-sourced, seasonal produce is The Barrel Inn at nearby Bretton(01433 630856), claimed to be the highest and one of the oldest pubs in Derbyshire.



  • Eyam – the Plague village

  • Tideswell – ‘cathedral’ town of the Peak

  • Buxton, spa town and shopping centre

  • Bakewell, ancient market town

  • Chatsworth, the “Palace of the Peak”

  • Haddon Hall, medieval manor house popular as a film set



Tourist Information Centres

Bakewell TIC, The Old Market Hall, Bridge Street, Bakewell, DE45 1DS; Tel: 01629 816558;, open daily.

Buxton Tourist Information Centre, The Crescent, Buxton SK17 6BQ; 01298 25106;; open daily.

Roly Smith

January 2010

© 2010 - Let's Stay Peak District 


Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015